The doctors of Whitesburg Animal Hospital, PC are committed to alerting you to any changes in disease patterns in our community. While there have been no recently reported cases of canine influenza in our immediate area; several cases have been confirmed across the United States.
Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs. It is easily spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions (coughing, barking and sneezing), contaminated objects (surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus can remain viable (alive and ready to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours.
The incubation period is usually two to four days from exposure to onset of clinical signs. The highest amounts of viral shedding occur during this time; therefore, dogs are most contagious during this two to four-day incubation period when they are not exhibiting signs of illness. While virus shedding decreases during the first four days; intermittent shedding can occur for up to 26 days.
What are the Clinical Signs?
Clinical signs of influenza range from general respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, eye discharge) to lethargy, reduced appetite and a fever. More severe cases may develop a thick nasal discharge. If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.
The good news is that most will recover, but it takes 3-4 weeks! The greatest risk is for the unhealthy, very young, very old and those with weakened immune systems. The greatest complication is pneumonia. To reduce the spread of the virus, infected dogs should be isolated for at least 21 days.
How Can I Protect My Dog?
To best protect our community, Whitesburg Animal Hospital will require the Canine Influenza H3N8+H3N2 combination vaccine for all boarding and day-boarding canines, participants in our Enrichment program as well as guests visiting our private Dog Park. We also recommend this combination vaccine for any dog that travels or participates in social activities. Proper immunization requires two vaccinations given at a three-week interval then an annual booster. Since the vaccination will not require a full physical examination, your pet’s appointment can be scheduled with a veterinary technician. Please feel free to contact our office at 256-882-0950 if you have any questions or concerns.